Roebourne Regional Prison is Western Australia’s most frequently inspected prison, this being the sixth inspection. There had been considerable change before the inspection. The previous inspection had recommended that DCS consider constructing a minimum-security area outside the current perimeter fence to help relieve overcrowding as well as facilitating prisoner involvement in community work and employment focused activities. This was taken up by a successful application to Royalties for Regions for a Town Work Camp which was under construction at the front of the prison at the time of the inspection.
It was planned that Millstream Work Camp, which had provided such a valuable service to the national park, would close at the time of the opening of the new Town Work Camp. However, DCS decided in early 2013 to close the Millstream Work Camp, essentially as a cost-saving measure. The DECCA training program which had been operating on a limited level for some time was mothballed in early 2013, with the intention that the training it provided be revived in the new Town Work Camp.
Education had also been significantly reduced by staffing issues, offender program delivery had markedly declined and industrial employment was limited. Preparation for release and re-entry supports on release remained a priority for the prison, but recidivism was stubbornly high.
Perhaps the saddest change of all was the effective exile in early 2013 of women to facilities in other regions or Perth following closure of their unit; only a small remand wing was retained.
Still, the involvement of BigHart, which worked with prisoners to express themselves through music and VSwans, which worked with prisoners in alliance with the Wickham Rovers has given a real lift to the cultural and sporting lives of prisoners. Overcrowding had also reduced since the opening the West Kimberley Regional Prison in late 2012, works were completed that allowed prisoners to be better distributed between the two male units and males were able to occupy the former women’s unit.